Zioga P (2017) Live Brain-Computer Cinema Performance. PhD. Glasgow School of Art. http://radar.gsa.ac.uk/5304/
Artists have been interested in the human brain’s anatomy and physiology since at least the Renaissance, while in the twentieth century, the technological revolution enabled them to include in their practices methods adopted from the sciences and engineering, like Brain-Computer Interfaces (BCIs). The use of BCIs originates in the 1960s, with musicians, performers and artists being amongst the pioneers in the design of BCI applications. In recent years, after a period of little progress in the field, the introduction of new commercial-grade Electroencephalography (EEG)-based BCIs has led to a phenomenal development of applications across health, entertainment and the arts. At the same time, in the fields of neuroscience and experimental psychology, has emerged a new increasing interest in the mechanisms and processes of the interaction between multiple subjects and their brain-activity, referred to as multi-brain interaction. Although the vast majority of the applications in the arts and entertainment use the brain-activity of a single participant, there are earlier as well as an increasing number of recent examples that involve the simultaneous interaction of more than one participants, mainly in the context of installations, computer games and music performances.
This dissertation investigates the use of multi-brain EEG-based BCIs in the context of live cinema and mixed-media performances, which is a rather new field bearing distinct characteristics. Using an interdisciplinary approach, a critical overview of the development of the main BCI hardware, software and modes of interaction is presented and relevant works are examined. The aim is to identify the neuroscientific, computational, creative, performative and experimental challenges of the design and implementation of multi-brain BCIs in mixed-media performances, which leads to the main research question:
What might be an effective model for the simultaneous multi-brain interaction of performers and audiences using EEG-based BCIs in the context of live cinema and mixed-media performances?
In order to address the main research enquiry, scientific and practice-based methodologies were combined and a new passive multi-brain EEG-based BCI system was developed. The system was further implemented in the context of the research case study, Enheduanna – A Manifesto of Falling, the first demonstration of a live brain-computer cinema performance (CCA Glasgow 29-31 July 2015). This new work enabled for the first time the simultaneous real-time interaction with the use of EEG-based BCIs of more than two participants, including both a performer as well as members of the audience in the context of a mixed-media performance. The analysis of the participants’ data has most interestingly revealed a correlation between the elements of the performance, which they identified as most special, and their indicators of attention and emotional engagement that were increased during the last two scenes, when their brain-activity was interacting with the live visuals, proving the efficiency of the interaction design, the importance of the directing strategy, dramaturgy and narrative structure. Accordingly, the original contributions of the research include the new passive multi-brain EEG-based BCI system, the live brain-computer cinema performance as a new format of performative work and as a complete combination of creative and scientific solutions. This dissertation also presents the new trends in the field, such as hybrid BCIs, the combination with virtual and mixed reality systems, together with future work.
Brain-Computer Interface (BCI); Live Cinema; Performance